CBI president Paul Drechsler warns of moving too fast on "bear hug" US trade deal post-Brexit after Donald Trump signals moving quickly

 
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Moving too quickly on a trade deal with the US has risks (Source: Getty)

The boss of the UK's leading lobby group has warned of walking into a "bear hug" with the US when it comes to agreeing a trade deal, signalling concern that a quick negotiation could see the country lose out.

US President Donald Trump yesterday said he wanted to shake hands on a trade deal "very, very quickly" with the UK after Brexit, speaking at the G20 summit.

But CBI boss Paul Drechsler said: "The US has one of the best negotiating teams in the world in terms of trade deals, we don't want to walk into a bear hug, and I would be wary of trying to be too fast on a trade deal."

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"The UK is already the biggest foreign direct investor in the US, at about $449bn, the US is already the largest investor in the UK. We have had business relationships with the US for a long time. Of course we would welcome [a trade deal] but one has to recognise, not every trade deal is necessarily a good and fair deal for both parties," he said, speaking on Sky's Sophy Ridge on Sunday.

"The important thing is that we know what we want to achieve, what the objectives are and what the trade-offs are. A trade deal is a dog eat dog activity, it's not a diplomatic activity," he said, adding that a "common sense" set of proposals were needed.

"We're no wiser today, than we were 12 months ago, in terms of what conditions business will be able to plan on in the future."

He also warned that the government was going for "headlines over facts and evidence".

"A wonderful headline from the head of the US, or the Prime Minister of Japan, is a wonderful headline, but the substance that matters, is what are the jobs and opportunities for the next generation and what level of debt will this country leave them," he said.

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"I do not think we have had an honest conversation about all the key issues people are concerned about, about immigration, about some of the challenges we face competing on a global basis, about the great opportunities that are around for new technology and new jobs. There is a wonderful future in front of us, but we also have to recognise there are threats and challenges to that.

"I would just encourage everyone, let's ease up on the vitriol, and let's focus on the facts and evidence, let's engage people on understanding the exciting possibilities, not feed them just bits and pieces that are, on the surface, exciting, but lack substance beneath."

The business lobby group and others in the City last week ramped up the pressure on government over its Brexit demands as leaders of the country's top businesses kicked off regular meetings with ministers over the direction Brexit will take.

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